Pale gentian (Gentiana glauca)

Alaska Wildflowers | Purple and Blue

The blue flowers of pale gentian (Gentiana glauca) in the White Mountain National Recreation Area, Alaska.

Pale gentian

Gentiana glauca

Common Names

alpine gentian
gentiane glauque
glaucus gentian
inky gentian
pale gentian
smooth alpine gentian


Dasystephana glauca
Gentiana glauca var. paulensis
Gentianodes glauca



Genus: Gentiana
Family: Gentianaceae
Order: Gentianales
full classification

Duration – Growth Habit

Perennial – Forb/herb

Identification and Information

Pale gentian (Gentiana glauca) is a perennial forb/herb that grows from slender, creeping rhizomes. The solitary stems are erect, growing 3-15 cm tall. The plant has both basal and cauline leaves. The basal leaves are fleshy, elliptic to oval in shape, 1-2 cm long, and form a rosette. The stem leaves are smaller (0.5-1 cm long), growing opposite in pairs, and are egg-shaped.

The inflorescence is a terminal cluster of 3-5 short-stalked flowers. The tubular corollas are blue, greenish blue, or rarely yellowish-white, 1-2 cm long, and 5-lobed. The smaller calyx also has five lobes and is 5-7 mm long. The five stamens are shorter than the corolla tubes. The fruit is a 1-chambered capsule with numerous flattened seeds.


For information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant.

No traditional, medicinal, or culinary uses were found.

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Distribution and Habitat

The range of Gentiana glauca is limited to northwestern North America, including Alaska, the Yukon, Northwest Territories, British Columbia, and Alberta. It is listed as imperiled in Washington State and Montana. It’s also found in western Siberia.

It lives in moist meadows, on the edges of woodlands, and in alpine zones.


RankScientific Name (Common Name)
KingdomPlantae (plantes, Planta, Vegetal, plants)
   SubkingdomViridiplantae (green plants)
      InfrakingdomStreptophyta (land plants)
            DivisionTracheophyta (vascular plants, tracheophytes)
               SubdivisionSpermatophytina (spermatophytes, seed plants, phanérogames)
                           FamilyGentianaceae (gentians, gentianes)
                              GenusGentiana L. (gentian)
                                 SpeciesGentiana glauca Pall. (pale gentian)

References and Further Reading


Pratt, Verna E. Alaskan Wildflowers. Anchorage: Alaskakrafts, Inc., 1989. Page 39.

Classification and Taxonomy

ITIS. (n.d.). Gentiana glauca. Retrieved February 18, 2024, from

VASCAN. (n.d.). Gentiana glauca. Database of Vascular Plants of Canada (VASCAN). Retrieved February 18, 2024, from

USDA NRCS. (n.d.). Gentiana glauca. Plants Database. Retrieved February 18, 2024, from



Map and Distribution

GBIF. (n.d.). Gentiana glauca. Retrieved February 18, 2024, from

NatureServe Explorer. (n.d.). Gentiana glauca. Retrieved February 18, 2024, from

Description and Information

E-Flora BC. (n.d.). Gentiana glauca. Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia. Retrieved February 18, 2024, from

Montana Field Guide. (n.d.). Gentiana glauca. Retrieved February 18, 2024, from

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